Missing out on Rally of Nelson
Newly crowned New Zealand Rally Champion, Hayden Paddon, will miss this weekend’s final championship round, the Boxman Rally of Nelson.
Paddon’s championship winning Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9 is on its way to Malaysia for the Pirelli Star Driver final in October, and Paddon says there was no viable option for a replacement car to drive in Nelson.
“It’s unfortunate that we can’t make it to the start line, as Nelson is certainly one of my favourite events and it would have been nice to go back and defend last years win,” Paddon says.
“But realistically we have to look at the big picture, which is that we’ve wrapped up the New Zealand title and now have the opportunity of a lifetime in Malaysia.”
Paddon says the Malaysian event is “an all or nothing rally”, with points allocated on a stage by stage basis for all eligible competitors in the Pirelli star quest (less than 27 years old and residing in the Asia Pacific region).
The driver with the most points at the end of the two-day event wins the goldmine prize; a fully funded drive in the 2009 Production World Rally Championship.
“This is massive for both the team and for me,” says Paddon. “My goal has always been to make it into the World Rally Championship, which alone is no mean feat, but this opportunity, if we’re successful, would be a giant step toward that goal.
“Before that though, there’s a lot of hard work to be done, competing against some very fast drivers from New Zealand, Australia and Asia, plus pitting ourselves against the ever changing conditions that Malaysia will offer.”
It’s the first time Paddon’s Team Green has contested an overseas event using its own car, personnel and set-up.
“To have the guys join us for this journey is amazing,” Paddon says. “It’s a great feeling, as they’re all as big a part of our team and our successes as I am.”